Members of Parliament (MPs) on Tuesday morning showed concern over what some have called delays in the distribution of the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (Fisp) inputs.
Referring to questions, Machinga East MP Esther Jolobola (Independent) asked the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Joseph Mwanamvekha to explain as to why some of the inputs were not available in most areas of her constituency.
She said most farmers are covering long distances to get fertiliser under the programme which is no longer subsidy as the farmers are paying a lot of money in transport to get the inputs.
“Why is it that there is no fertiliser in most areas of my constituency? Most farmers from my constituency are travelling long distances to purchase the inputs. Is the minister aware of the high transport costs which farmers have to pay to get to areas where they can access them?” she said.
Lilongwe Central MP Lobin Lowe (Malawi Congress Party-MCP) questioned the relevance of the programme, saying it is no longer having any impact but just being used as a political tool.
He said: “What is the future of Fisp? It is not having any impact and my fear is that as we are going towards the general elections, it will just be used as another political tool while people are not benefiting from it.”
In his response, Mwanamvekha said many farmers have benefitted from the programme, including those from the members who asked about it whom he said have already redeemed their inputs.
“As of on Tuesday December 11, 80 percent of farmers in Machinga had redeemed their NPK fertiliser while 76 percent redeemed the urea fertiliser. This is good progress compared to last year,” he said.
Mwanamvekha, however, dismissed assertions that the programme is used to gain political mileage, saying farmers have benefited from it.
He also assured the House that the companies distributing the farm inputs assist people in hard-to -each areas by taking the services closer to them.